This interview was originally published on December 2, 2014.
Meet our newest Matinee Ebenezer Scrooge: Actor Buzz Roddy joins the cast of A Christmas Carol this year.
You are making your debut here at Hartford Stage. What has your experience been like so far?
Hartford Stage is a place that I’ve been itching to work at for many a year. Actors like me, who work all over the country, pay extra attention when Hartford announces its season every year and ponder what roles we might play. When I got here to start rehearsal, I was delighted to be in an environment where everyone is great at what they do; whether it be acting, stage management, costuming or any of the other myriad jobs that go into making a successful production. Joining the cast of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a unique circumstance, in that the new kid at school (me) joins a production which essentially has been running almost two decades despite taking a ten-month hiatus every year. People like Alan Rust and Noble Shropshire and, of course, Bill Raymond are personally invested in this show. It’s more than just a play. I am very happy to say that the company has welcomed me and made me feel quite at home.
Quick Change. Is this your first time working with Bill since the release of that film? Has he offered you any Scrooge-like advice?
Bill and I were in Quick Change? I’ve never seen it. I did a stunt in the bank robbery scene. Bill Murray played a guy who robbed a bank in clown make-up. He was also the director. I just remember him directing the picture in full clown make up. We often make jokes about the clowns who direct these things, but in this case it really was. Bill has not given me advice, per se, on Scrooge, aside from things to do to not kill oneself. Being that it is a ghost story, and it is very dark and Scrooge is in every scene, it would be easy to break one’s neck. In terms of playing the old boy, there are certainly some Raymondisms to which I give homage (i.e. If it’s a good bit, I have no problem stealing it). Bill is much more similar to the Scrooge at the end of the show. And we have a good time at work.
You’ve appeared in many different productions of A Christmas Carol in many different countries? How have these productions differed from Hartford Stage’s
Before joining this cast, I travelled with another version of the story throughout the European continent. I did this off and on for more than two decades. In that time, I played every male role except Scrooge and Tiny Tim. I even played a very mature Turkey Boy once, when a member of the cast was ill. That version and Michael Wilson’s are similar in that they do a very smart thing – they keep true to Dickens’ original language and story. Many theatres do their own adaptations, and where they fall flat is when they “improve” on arguably the greatest English writer of the 19th century. The big difference between the two for me is that the European one usually plays a new city every day. Like here, there are Germans and Swiss who can not begin their Christmas season without seeing A CHRISTMAS CAROL.